THE FARM

It’s the time of year when a lot of city kids get their annual taste of the country life as they pack up and head to a pumpkin farm. They see tractors, people in overalls, crawl around on hay, go for a wagon ride.

Farms have always had a special meaning to me. For starters, my mom was raised on one. Actually, a couple. In my early years, our trips back to South Dakota to visit her side of the family always included a swing by Grandma & Grandpa Brandner’s farm, as well as a visit to a cousin’s farm.  I got to sit on a tractor and ride around with Grandpa (and we have the home movies to prove it), ride in the back of a truck for the nightly round-up of cattle, feed the chickens, collect eggs and so on.  When you grow up with that, you just assume everyone has relatives with farms and they get to go visit them.

Both relatives with farms didn’t just live on large chunks of land, but they were working it. Growing crops, raising hogs, cattle or chickens.  My cousin Clay took over his family’s farm and still grows crops on it, but has to maintain a second job because farming is just not what it used to be. Not that it was ever easy.

I remember going back to South Dakota the year after my grandparents sold their farm and moved into town. During several visits, we’d take the sentimental drive out to their old place and remember.  This past summer, we managed to pull off a swing back to South Dakota and we went to the site of the farm. But the home was long gone. There was a new structure, new barn and it was just not the same.

I was reminded of that farm this past week because my mom & sister visited from California, their first time up here in 9 years and mom brought along this flyer. It was something that was printed up before the auction, when everything on the farm was sold. You think about all those years of working sun up to sundown and then, one day, it’s all put up to the highest bidder. I thought you’d get a kick out of how they worded some of the items. For example, the location: “at the place two miles south of Roscoe.”  To help encourage attendance, “Lunch will be served.”

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There was a time. There was a farm. Then one day, there was an auction and the farm began its fade into history. Fortunately, someone in a plane managed to grab an aerial shot of it one time, so we’ll be able to look back and remember.

I also know that, if they ever figure out that time-travel thing, I’ve already got my first destination planned out.

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Emma & Emil Brandner’s Farm   1942-1966

Tim Hunter

Gerard Mauvis

It sounds French. A wine?  Or maybe a town in France. Wait, Gerard, that’s a first name. Was he a famous painter?

Over the course of my life and my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to have met a lot of people. Earlier this summer, I had the chance to meet Gerard Mauvis at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess where he was the Director of Operations. I had flown down to Arizona for a couple of days of videotaping and photography for one of our Create Impulse clients, MistAmerica.

It’s our biggest client by far and one that is enjoying tremendous success.  They make misting equipment for hot climates. Not just any misting equipment, but the top of the line misters that far out-perform anything else in the category.  That’s why Gerard and the crew at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess decided to have them installed in several locations of their resort. The results have been beyond their wildest dreams. The misters kept their outdoor areas usable, even in triple-digit heat. That meant people stayed outdoors, remained active and continued to order food and beverages.

So, on my whirlwind tour of the desert that day, I was bouncing from place to place, asking satisfied MistAmerica customers to talk about their product experience.  Now, I have to admit, that with the posh Scottsdale Princess being one of the most lavish resorts in the area, I figured I might run into a couple of stuffy shirts. You know, “I work at the Fairmont”, that kind of thing.  From the moment I met Gerard, he was kind, pleasant, down to earth, a real people person. From start to finish, I might have spent an hour with him, which flew by.  He said such wonderful things about the product, was genuinely and sincerely excited about it and just happy to have the opportunity to tell others.

I returned to Seattle, edited together a couple of pieces from the video and was quite proud of how they turned out. Here’s one of the videos, so you can see what I’m talking about.

That gives you a good idea of the kind of person I was lucky enough to get to know that hot summer day just a few months ago.  I’ll bet if I had gone down there again and reintroduced myself, he would have remembered our little chat that we captured on video.

But that will never happen.

I recently found out that on the final Friday of September, he was walking across a street to catch a high school football game when he was struck by a car and killed. Just like that. Gone.

This world really can’t afford to lose any of the good ones, but my sadness deepened even further when I read about his life on the GoFundMe page set up for his family. Gerard Mauvis was a class act and I can only imagine the incredible grief and sense of loss his family is feeling.

He only enjoyed 46 years on this earth but it’s obvious he made them all count. I will be forever grateful to have been lucky enough to meet Gerard Mauvis. That hour I spent with him is a precious souvenir of time I will not forget.

Tim Hunter

 

61 And No Asterisk

 

Me & the bike-riding Norwegian

            Me & the bike-riding Norwegian

This week, the late summer holiday I call SepTIMber rolled around again. Yes, it’s another notch on the birthday belt.

Last year was the leap to a new decade. I remember in earlier years, turn 30, 40 or even 50 was seen as a big landmark in your life. I don’t remember my 30th being a big deal. 40, I believe there was a big party. For my 50th, I was reinventing myself as a writer in a post-radio apocalypse that was my career. That was also a year of life changes and the launch of some pretty emotionally draining parts of my life.

Then, things started to turn.

Right now, I can’t be grateful enough for all that I’ve got, being able to do what I like to do for a living, working with some great people and projects, and it just keeps going.

I remember when 61-years-old was ancient. It was the year before you retired.

Now, with the retirement carrot extended further with an even longer stick, most people turning that decade don’t see anything close to retirement in the near future. I like to say that I’ve been planning on retirement and that I should have all the money I’ll need by the time I’m 122.

But I’m 61, just half-way there. You know the thing I love the most about being this age: I’ve reached it in fairly good health. The body has been cooperating, I’m still able to be active (perhaps, TOO active) but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Each week begins with a checklist of things I’m pushing myself to do. There’s my Wacky Week Podcast, featuring a new episode each week. This week, I not only have a bit we did back in the radio days with former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, but also, an interview I did a few days ago with a Norwegian journalist who rode his bike from Washington, D.C. to Seattle, talking with people along the way. His goal–to try and explain to his fellow Norwegians back home what the heck Americans are thinking in this election.  I told him if he figured it out, to be sure and share with us.

I also write a blog, reminiscent of my days as a columnist for the Bothell Reporter. You know, I turned some of those articles into an actual book you can buy on Amazon. (wow, look at the price on that! Don’t let them know I’ve got a box of ’em. It’s like commodities investing) You can actually download the Kindle version for free.

There’s my weekly Tim Hunter Creative Services newsletter that flies into inboxes each and every Wednesday. It’s a way to remind people about what I do, in the chance that perhaps, one day we can work together.

I’m up at 4am each morning to write for Radio-Online, a show prep service.  I write gags for ventriloquist Mark Merchant and cartoonist Steve Kelley. I do the occasional auction or emcee an event, like the Lutefisk Eating Contest this Saturday at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival.

I’m involved with several clubs & organizations, do way too much volunteer work for my own good but the bottom line is–I can. I’m lucky enough to be doing all the things I want to do.  I’m even hoping a screenplay I wrote years ago might have a chance again thanks to a new door that opened recently.

Yeah, I’m 61, but I’m far from done. You know, years ago, an astrologer did a complete breakdown on me and what the stars said was going to happen in my life. She pointed to some huge success when I was a senior. Looking at it now, she might have just been talking about the ripe old age of 61.  Makes you wonder what a huge success I’ll be when I finally hit that retirement age of 122.

Remember, you’re here. You’ve got a life. Live it.  You’ll be hitting 61 and denying it before you know it.

And laugh a little, would ya?

Tim Hunter

 

Our Summer Glamping Trip

It only seems right, in this final full week of summer in the Northwest (and, probably where you are, too) that I look back at our summer glamping trip.

No, that’s not a typo.  Glamping is when you camp, but in a glamorous way. You know–cushy RV, elaborate 5th wheeler, a mountain lodge….

Wait? A mountain lodge is an option?

Here’s the story.

Growing up, some of our favorite family summer vacations or extended weekends were spent on camping trips.  We did the trailer thing and not only hit the California spots like Lake San Antonio, Crestline, and a host of others whose names I’m starting to forget. But we also packed it up one year and DROVE up to Washington State.  That was an adventure, especially on those windy mountain roads that looked so straight on the map.

In college, after relocating up here, I even managed to sneak in a few tent camping getaways, including one to the Spokane World’s Fair back in 1974.  While my kids were growing up, we got in a couple of tent trips, some RV vacations and cabin getaways. But the past couple of decades, I think we’ve put up the tent maybe three times.

One of those occasions was during a drive to California a few years back, when I remembered everything…..except the tent poles! Seeing how that can mess up your communing with nature, when we actually reserved a camping spot this year, I was determined to remember EVERYTHING.

We took a Friday off and enjoyed a leisurely drive to the mountains and pulled up to a beautiful, secluded, quiet, forested camp site. However, what was supposed to be two days in paradise was cut short by a must-attend social obligation that popped up on Saturday night.  So, it was get there Friday, enjoy a fun night of camping and then pack up and head home.  At least we were getting in one night of camping.

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All was going fairly smooth–the tent went together as it should, all parts included; what we thought was going to be a campfire-free weekend because of a burning ban actually included a campfire, as this campground was on federal land. Apparently, their forests don’t burn like the state ones.

OK, there was one glitch.  I had remembered the air mattress and grabbed the pump. But, in rounding up the 99 things needed, I failed to notice the one thing missing: the tube that connected the pump to the mattress.  I gave my lungs a workout, held the pump next to the mattress and got it 2/3’s of the way full. I figured I’d do the rest after dinner.  Of course, Victoria decided to document this adventure, take pictures and post them on Facebook. I suspect they’ll also be used against me in the eventual sanity trial.

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But look at that site!  Dinner was heating up on the fire, the campsite-rules-violating bottle of Dusted Valley Cabernet had filled our plastic cups and we were camping. NOT glamping, but full-blown camping.

It was around then that a huge SUV pulled up next to our site and the guy driving yelled out, “Hey, where do you want us to park?” 10-seconds probably passed when he took pity on our extremely confused faces and revealed, “Hey! It’s Wally & Susan!”  It was my wife’s cousin and her recently retired police officer husband that we usually saw only once each year at a family gathering.  But what the heck where they doing here?

It turned out that they had recently bought “a cabin” in the area, about 5-miles away. They had been relaxing, probably not far from bed when Susan saw Victoria’s post about the mattress debacle. She told Wally, he replied to her, “Let’s get in the car and go find them!” and they cruised the campground until they recognized the tent in the picture.  Once a police investigator, always a police investigator.

We all sat around and chatted while we ate our camping dinner and then they invited us back to their cabin to relax and fill up our air mattress with their pump. (they had a hose)  At this point, we had achieved our goal of setting up the camp. Sure, we could head up that way for a while, then come back and enjoy our planned rustic overnight stay.

The wine flowed, the cigars came out, we enjoyed a fire from the propane fire pit on the deck of their 3200 square foot “cabin” that sleeps 21.  Yeah, we weren’t suffering. But it was getting late, so we figured it was time to go back to the campsite. However, when we checked the air mattress, it was flat. At this point, we had to choose between sleeping on the hard ground, or spending the night in their downstairs guest room.

The next morning, we enjoyed a nice breakfast, I drove over and packed up the campsite and then we headed out on Wally & Susan’s boat for a tour. We had an absolutely amazing time. It was fun to actually hang with Wally & Susan, just the four of us and I fired up the camera and grabbed all kinds of pictures.  OK, while it was more glamping than camping, we still got that healthy dose of the great outdoors I had been craving.

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Bottom line is–we made a 2016 camping trip happen. That is a 30-hour stretch of my life I will not soon forget. I’m already looking forward to January 1st, when you can begin making camping reservations for the New Year.  I want to make sure that we grab that same spot and then, make doubly sure to throw away that hose for the pump.

Thanks Wally & Susan for the great time!

Your cousin-in-law,

Tim Hunter

It’s Pool Time!!

This week, KOMO television here in Seattle is celebrating their longtime weather personality, Steve Pool.

Remember, for a time, I lurked the halls of Fisher Broadcasting as Larry Nelson’s producer on the radio side of the KOMO Empire. Occasionally I’d bump into Steve at a cross-promotional event.  Then, when I headed across the lake to work at 92.5-KLSY, it became a tradition to have Steve and the late Kathi Goertzen do battle in our “Battle of the Sexes.” Steve represented the Dawgs, Kathi was the proud Cougar back when it had only one meaning.  Whichever side won theoretically would predict the outcome of the annual Apple Cup.  Not with any accuracy, but it was still a fun gimmick.

While working afternoons at KLSY, my former KOMO connections managed to work me into a “celebrity” edition of TV’s Family Feud game show. While Steve was a part of that adventure, it’s what happened with the rest of the crew that is pressed in my memory.

We actually got to fly down to Los Angeles, check into a fancy hotel and, that evening, have dinner with the host, Ray Combs. The radio and TV folks came in two different flights. I was on the second one and probably, for the better. It seems that on the early flight, one of our radio sisters drank a TV all-star under the table, such that he was unable to be at dinner that night. After dining together in a big group, Ray explained what all would happen the next day—a Sunday, by the way—, so we scattered. I’ll never forget seeing Kathi Goertzen, who I had only spoken to briefly (after all, she was Kathi friggin’ Goertzen) getting all cowgirl’d up to go hit the local country bars with her sister. I can still see her in those cowboy boots.

We were told to be ready to catch the bus to the TV studio by 7am Sunday morning. OK, so I set the alarm for 6.  Shortly after it went off, I heard a slam from my next door neighbor, Robin Erickson.  Living up to her rock jock image, she was just getting home from a night out on the town.

We got to the TV studio and some of us were blurrier than others. A few were a bit stage-struck or full of nervous energy.  I remember it being like a dream.  You know the part where your team poses as your introduced and before you come on stage?  I was amazed to see that the backside of it was covered in graffiti. It’s something they don’t show you on TV.

We did two episodes, back to back, so they could sprinkle them out during the important ratings periods.  My buddy, Larry Nelson, had a serious brain freeze on one of the questions.  We never quit teasing him about it.

Seeing this video makes me realize just how long ago this was. I was honored to be included in the Feud, and to hang around for a while with some of my cross-town radio rivals, as well as the gang from KOMO TV.  The last one of that KOMO TV bunch still on the air is weather guru Steve Pool, the guy who triggered this little stroll down memory lane.  Congratulations, Steve, on your 40-year achievement. Here’s to as many more as you want and as long as you’re having fun, that’s really all that matters.

 Tim Hunter